Author

Douglas Kronaizl

Douglas Kronaizl is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

New year, new state legislative leaders

Welcome to the Friday, January 27, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. At least 121 new state legislative leaders elected so far
  2. Oklahoma will vote on marijuana legalization in March, Ohio could follow in November
  3. #FridayTrivia: What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?

At least 121 new state legislative leaders elected so far

At the start of each legislative session, newly elected and returning legislators elect chamber leaders. These leaders—like Senate presidents, House speakers, and majority and minority leaders—preside over the chamber or caucus, directing the legislative process and typically performing other procedural duties.

We have been tracking these leadership elections and, so far, have identified outcomes for 283 offices nationwide. Results for 33 offices are still pending.

Of the 283 called offices, legislators re-elected 57% of leaders (162) to their previous posts. In another 38% (108), they elected a different leader from the same party as the previous leader. The remaining 5% of posts (13) changed party control completely due to changes in chamber control.

Leadership turnover has been higher for Republicans. Of their 156 leaders, 48% (75) are newcomers to their positions. Meanwhile, for Democrats, 35% (45) of their 126 leaders are new to their positions.

That difference becomes starker when looking at the top leadership positions in each chamber. In the Senate, that’s the president, or president pro tempore in states where the lieutenant governor serves as the Senate leader. In the House, it’s the speaker.

We’ve found results for 47 Senate president elections. Of the 29 Republicans, 45% (13) are new to the job compared to 22% (4) of the 18 Democrats.

And we have 45 results for House speakerships. Of the 27 Republicans, 44% (12) are new, compared to 38% of the 18 Democrats.

Four top leadership positions have switched party control so far, all from Republicans to Democrats in chambers where Democrats won control: the Michigan House and Senate, Minnesota Senate, and Pennsylvania House.

But leadership elections can also represent a change even when the position remains within the same party.

  • In Alaska, House lawmakers elected Rep. Cathy Tilton (R) as speaker, replacing Rep. Louise Stutes (R). Stutes previously led a multi-partisan majority made up primarily of Democrats and independents. While Tilton also oversees a multi-partisan majority, hers is made up primarily of Republicans.
  • In Ohio, lawmakers elected Rep. Jason Stephens (R) over Rep. Derek Merrin (R). Merrin had previously won the House GOP caucus’ support for the speakership, but Stephens lobbied Democrats to join a portion of Republicans, securing him the office.

Learn more about the leadership positions and more using the link below.

Keep reading 


Oklahoma will vote on marijuana legalization in March, Ohio could follow in November

Oklahoma voters will decide on State Question 820, an initiative to legalize marijuana, on March 7. Voters in Ohio could decide on a similar initiative in November.

The two states are the latest in an ongoing nationwide trend of marijuana initiatives appearing on ballots.

There were five such measures on the ballot last year. Voters in Maryland and Missouri approved recreational marijuana legalization, while voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota defeated similar measures.

To date, 21 states have legalized recreational marijuana, 12 via ballot measures and nine via legislation.

Another 16 states have legalized medical marijuana, five—including Oklahoma—via ballot measures and 11—including Ohio—via legislation. 

Oklahomans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, the group leading the campaign in support of State Question 820, wanted the measure to appear on the ballot in 2022. Due to legal challenges and signature deadlines, the measure had to be moved to a later election. On Oct. 18, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) set the special election for March 7, 2023.

In Ohio, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol recently submitted 136,729 valid signatures for a similar recreational marijuana legalization initiative

Since Ohio uses indirect initiated statutes, the proposal is first submitted to the Ohio General Assembly. Lawmakers have until May 3 to approve the measure. If they reject or take no action, initiative supporters must collect an additional 124,046 valid signatures within 90 days. If successful, the initiative would then appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

But that’s just a look at 2023. Four marijuana-related initiatives in three states—Florida, Nebraska, and Wyoming—are currently gathering signatures to appear on ballots in 2024.

Keep reading 


#FridayTrivia: What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?

In 2022, 9.8% of all congressional races (46) were decided by fewer than five percentage points. That’s an increase from 8.9% in 2020. 

But if you look at races decided by fewer than 10 percentage points, the percentage in 2022 actually decreased compared to 2020.

What percentage of congressional races were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points last year?

  1. 26.4%
  2. 18.1%
  3. 21.7%
  4. 13.2%



Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 24, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year
  2. Signatures submitted for Right to Repair initiative in Maine
  3. Florida creates new appellate court district

Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year

Republicans in 327 congressional districts outperformed former President Donald Trump’s (R) 2020 vote totals in those same districts, meaning, compared to Trump, Republican House candidates either won by larger margins or lost by smaller margins last year.

Democratic House candidates outperformed Biden in 68 districts (16%).

In Texas’ 9th and 35th Districts, the 2022 House and 2020 presidential margins were identical.

Thirty-eight districts (9%) were excluded from this analysis because they were either uncontested or did not feature both major parties in 2022.

To calculate these results, we first found the margins of victory from all 397 U.S. House races with candidates from both major parties.

Next, since district lines have changed since 2020, we used data from Daily Kos to determine how many votes Joe Biden (D) and Trump would have received  if the 2020 election had been held with the new district boundaries in place.

We then compared the two margins of victory, checking to see whether the 2022 House margins were more Democratic or more Republican than the presidential margins in 2020. 

Republicans’ largest improvement was in Florida’s 26th District, where the House margin was 23.5 percentage points more Republican than the 2020 presidential margin. In both elections, voters supported the Republican candidate, but more so in 2022.

  • In 2020, Trump received more votes than Biden, 58.9 to 40.6% (R+18.3). 
  • In 2022, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) defeated Christine Olivo (D) 70.9 to 29.1% (R+41.8)

Democrats’ largest improvement was in Alaska’s At-Large District, where the House margin was 20.1 percentage points more Democratic than the 2020 presidential margin. Since Alaska uses ranked-choice voting for the U.S. House, the 2022 margin is based on the results of the final tabulation.

  • In 2020, Trump received more votes than Biden, 53.1 to 43.0% (R+10.1).
  • In 2022, Rep. Mary Peltola (D) defeated Sarah Palin (R) 55.0 to 45.0% (D+10.0).

Nationwide, looking at all 397 districts included in this analysis, the average margin of victory in 2020 was D+5.7 in Biden’s favor. The average House margin was D+0.8, meaning margins became 4.9 percentage points more Republican in 2022.

In four of the five districts with the largest Republican improvements, Trump won in 2020, but Republican House candidates won by more in 2022. Rep. Mike Garcia (R) won California’s 27th District, which previously voted for Biden.

In three of the five districts with the largest Democratic improvements, Democratic House candidates won in districts that previously voted for Trump. In Hawaii’s 1st and Pennsylvania’s 2nd Districts, Democratic House candidates expanded on Biden’s margins.

Keep reading

Signatures submitted for Right to Repair initiative in Maine

On Jan. 19, the Maine Right to Repair Coalition submitted more than 70,000 signatures for a ballot initiative to give car owners and independent repair facilities access to vehicle on-board diagnostic systems.

The initiative addresses diagnostic data transmitted wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers. According to the coalition, more than 90% of new cars can transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly, but in a manner only available to vehicle manufacturers.

Tim Winkeler, CEO of VIP Tire Service and coalition member, said without the initiative, “these vehicles are gonna have to go back to the dealerships and independent repair shops won’t be able to work on cars. Consumers are at risk of being forced to take their car back to only the dealerships, and not have freedom of choice.”

The Maine initiative is similar to one decided in Massachusetts in 2020. Voters approved Question 1, which similarly requires that vehicle owners and repair facilities have access to wireless diagnostic data.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group representing automakers, filed a lawsuit against Question 1, saying it “makes personal driving data available to third parties with no safeguards to protect core vehicle functions and consumers’ private information or physical safety.” The lawsuit is ongoing.

According to the Repair Association, an advocacy group in favor of right-to-repair policies, two states, Colorado and New York, have passed right-to-repair bills, while 10 states, not including Maine, have active legislation under consideration this year.

Initiatives in Maine require 67,682 valid signatures to appear before the Legislature. If lawmakers approve the initiative, it becomes law. If not, it will appear on the November 2023 ballot.

As of Jan. 23, five measures have been certified for the ballot in three states. That’s down from 10 certified this time in 2021 but up from the one in 2019.

Keep reading

Florida creates new appellate court district

A new year brings many new things, and for some in Florida, that includes a new appellate court district. On Jan. 1, a law establishing the state’s Sixth District Court of Appeal located east of Tampa in Lakeland took effect. The Sixth District has jurisdiction over the Ninth, Tenth, and Twentieth Circuit Courts.

Appellate courts serve as an intermediate step between trial courts (where a case originates) and the state supreme court. After a trial court renders a decision, plaintiffs or defendants can file an appeal, which typically moves it to an appellate court for further review.

This is the first time Florida has added a new appellate court district since 1979.

The Florida Supreme Court requested the new appellate court in 2021, recommending that legislators redraw the state’s district court boundaries. A committee working on that recommendation said a new district would “provide adequate access to oral arguments and proceedings, foster public trust and confidence based on geography and demographic composition, and help attract a diverse group of well-qualified applicants for judicial vacancies.”

Legislators and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) enacted redrawn lines—which included the new Sixth District—in June of last year.

DeSantis appointed judges to fill each of the new court’s nine seats before its formation. Six of those judges were reassigned from other appellate districts. Three previously sat on circuit courts. 

Judge Meredith Sasso, previously of the Fifth District Court of Appeal, will serve as the new district’s chief judge. Former Gov. Rick Scott (R) first appointed Sasso to a judgeship in 2019.

Keep reading



Less than 10% of all bills introduced to change ballot initiative processes passed in 2022

Welcome to the Friday, January 20, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Less than 10% of all bills introduced to change ballot initiative processes passed in 2022
  2. 18% of last year’s congressional elections were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

Less than 10% of all bills introduced to change ballot initiative processes passed in 2022

In 2022, Ballotpedia tracked 232 bills that would change the citizen-initiated ballot measure processes, the most since 2014.

Twenty-three proposals were enacted into law, representing 9.9% of those 232 bills, the lowest percentage over that timespan.

Since 2014, lawmakers have introduced an average of 189 bills affecting ballot measure processes. Twenty-seven tend to pass, with an average passage rate of 14.2%.

Examples of bills passed in 2022 include:

  • Florida House Bill 921 would have prohibited out-of-state donors from giving more than $3,000 to support or oppose an initiative during the signature-gathering phase. A U.S. district court declared the law unconstitutional last June.
  • Washington House Bill 1876 requires ballot language to include a statement describing how an initiative might affect state revenue.

In addition to these bills, voters also decided an increased number of legislatively referred ballot measures on the initiative process in 2022. 

There were six such measures on the ballot in four states: five constitutional amendments and one referred statute. This is up from two in 2018 and four in 2020. Voters approved two and rejected three:

  • Arkansas Issue 2 would have required a 60% vote to approve future ballot measures instead of a simple majority. Voters rejected this measure with 59% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 128 would have allowed the Legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures containing provisions the Arizona or U.S. Supreme Courts rule unconstitutional. Voters rejected this measure with 64% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 129 requires citizen-initiated ballot measures to cover a single subject. Voters approved this measure with 55% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 132 requires a 60% vote to pass ballot measures affecting taxes. Voters approved this measure with 51% of the vote.
  • Colorado Proposition GG adds a table to ballot titles for initiatives showing changes in income tax owed for average taxpayers in certain brackets. Voters approved this measure with 72% of the vote.
  • South Dakota Amendment C would have required a 60% vote to approve future ballot measures that increase taxes or fees or increase appropriations by $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years. Voters rejected this measure with 67% of the vote.

Keep reading 

18% of last year’s congressional elections were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points

Of the 470 congressional elections held in 2022, 18.1% (85) were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer. 

Ten of those races were for the U.S. Senate, where 35 seats were up for election. Seventy-five were in the House, where all 435 districts were on the ballot.

The percentage of races decided by fewer than 10 percentage points decreased in 2022 compared to 2018 and 2020 but was higher than in 2014 and 2016.

But when looking at races decided by five percentage points or fewer, the figure in 2022 is actually the second-highest since 2014 at 9.8% (46), behind only 2018 with 10.6% (50).

The closest Senate race in 2022 was in Nevada, where incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defeated Adam Laxalt (R) by a margin of 0.50 percentage points (48.70% to 48.20%).

The closest House race was in Colorado’s 3rd District, where incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) defeated Adam Frisch (D) by a margin of 0.17 percentage points (50.06% to 49.89%).

The list below shows the five offices with the narrowest margins of victory in 2022, along with the winning candidate and margin of victory. Of these five races, incumbents won re-election in two, one incumbent—Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.)—lost, and the two races in California and Michigan were for open seats.

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: How many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

In Thursday’s Brew, we looked at the most recent presidential candidate filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). As of Jan. 17, the number of people who have filed to run is already at its third-highest level in 40 years. To run for president, you must be a natural-born citizen of the U.S., at least 35 years old, and a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years.

As of Jan. 17, how many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

  1. 1,212
  2. 314
  3. 859
  4. 531


2022 had second-highest midterm voter turnout in two decades

Welcome to the Friday, January 13, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 2022 had second-highest midterm voter turnout in two decades
  2. Two statewide ballot measures certified so far this year
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many state legislative districts were renamed or eliminated after the 2020 census?

2022 had second-highest midterm voter turnout in two decades

According to data compiled by the United States Election Project, 2022 had the second-highest midterm voter turnout in two decades.

Turnout in 2022 was 46.8%. Since 2002, midterm turnout has ranged from a low of 36.7% in 2014 to a high of 50.3% in 2018.

Oregon, one of eight states that use automatic, all-mail voting, had the highest turnout rate at 61.5%. Tennessee had the lowest rate at 31.3%.

South Carolina had the largest turnout increase over 2018, the last midterm election. Turnout there was up nine percentage points. North Dakota had the largest decrease—down 16 percentage points.

The table below shows the three states with the largest increases and decreases compared to 2018. Rows are colored based on the state’s trifecta status.

Keep reading 

Two statewide ballot measures certified so far this year

As of Jan. 10, two statewide measures have been certified for the ballot in two states for 2023. Based on odd-year data since 2011, the average number of measures certified at the start of the year is four.

The two statewide measures certified so far are:

  • Oklahoma State Question 820 would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. This measure was supposed to appear on the general election ballot last year. Due to legal challenges and statutory deadlines for ballot printing, the measure was moved to March 7, 2023.
  • Louisiana Legislative Veto Sessions Amendment would change deadlines for when the governor must act on a bill. It would also allow the Legislature to consider vetoed bills during regular or extraordinary sessions rather than needing to convene a separate veto session. Originally slated to appear on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2022, last summer legislators voted to move this measure to Nov. 18, 2023.

Here are some other recent updates:

Since 2011, the average number of statewide ballot measures certified in odd-numbered years was 33.

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: How many state legislative districts were renamed or eliminated after the 2020 census?

When discussing redistricting, we often imagine legislative boundaries shifting, growing, or shrinking. But states can also add, remove, or rename districts after each census. In Monday’s Daily Brew, we brought you a story about this, and how five states either renamed or eliminated at least one state legislative district during the latest redistricting cycle.

How many state legislative districts were renamed or eliminated after the 2020 census?

  1. 68
  2. 18
  3. 143
  4. 49


Total partisan composition of state legislatures changed by less than half a percentage point in 2022

The partisan composition of all 7,386 state legislative seats in the country remained effectively unchanged as a result of the 2022 elections.

After the Nov. 8 elections, Democrats lost a net six seats nationwide compared to the pre-election totals. Republicans gained a net 28 seats and independent or minor party officeholders lost a net of 20 seats.

Overall, the total partisan composition of state legislative seats changed by less than half a percentage point in any direction, the smallest overall change ever recorded by Ballotpedia.

Democrats had net gains in 16 states that held elections on Nov. 8, including five where Republicans controlled both chambers. This resulted in Democrats winning a majority of seats in the Michigan House and Senate, and the Pennsylvania House. Democrats also had a net gain in Minnesota, which had a split legislature, with the party retaining the House and gaining the Senate.

Democrats’ largest gains were in Vermont, where the party picked up 17 seats, representing 9.4% of the legislature. This maintained the party’s existing veto-proof majority in the Senate and created a new veto-proof majority in the House. Vermont’s governor, Phil Scott, is a Republican.

Republicans had net gains in 21 states, including five where Democrats controlled both chambers, but the party did not gain majorities in any chambers in 2022.

Republicans’ largest gains were in West Virginia, where the party picked up 17 seats, representing 12.7% of the legislature. This solidified the party’s trifecta in the state. Democrats now control 11.2% of all seats in the legislature, the party’s lowest point in state history.

Independent or minor party candidates had net gains in two states: Alaska and Rhode Island. In Alaska, independents had a net gain of two seats in the House, where Republicans won a numerical majority, but talks are ongoing regarding the creation of a multipartisan governing coalition.

The partisan composition of seven state legislatures did not change in 2022.

Click here to view an interactive version of this map.

The chart below shows each state where either or neither major party gained a percentage of the legislature.

Use the link below to view more data from this analysis, including chamber-specific figures.

Election results, 2022: State legislative seats that changed party control



Partisan control of all state legislative seats nationwide changed by less than 0.5% in 2022

Welcome to the Tuesday, Jan. 10 Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Total partisan composition of state legislatures changed by less than half a percentage point in 2022
  2. Where things stand with the federal COVID-19 public health emergency
  3. Ben Sasse resigns from U.S. Senate

Total partisan composition of state legislatures changed by less than half a percentage point in 2022

The partisan composition of all 7,386 state legislative seats in the country remained effectively unchanged following the 2022 elections.

Democrats had a net loss of six seats nationwide. Republicans had a net gain of 28 seats, and independent or minor party officeholders had a net loss of 20 seats. The net changes do not equal zero due to redistricting and vacancies. 

Overall, the partisan composition of state legislative seats changed by less than half a percentage point in any direction, the smallest overall change in more than a decade.

Democrats had net gains in 16 states that held elections on Nov. 8, including six states where Republicans controlled one or both chambers. As a result, Democrats won majorities in the Michigan House and Senate, Minnesota Senate, and Pennsylvania House.

Democrats’ largest gains were in Vermont, where the party picked up 17 seats, representing 9.4% of the Legislature. This maintained the party’s existing veto-proof majority in the Senate and created a new veto-proof majority in the House. Vermont’s governor, Phil Scott, is a Republican.

Republicans had net gains in 21 states, including five states where Democrats controlled both chambers. Republicans did not gain majorities in any chambers.

Republicans’ largest gains were in West Virginia, where the party picked up 17 seats, representing 12.7% of the Legislature. This solidified the party’s trifecta in the state. Democrats now control 11.2% of all seats in the Legislature, the party’s smallest percentage in state history.

Independent or minor party candidates had net gains in two states: Alaska and Rhode Island. In Alaska, independents had a net gain of two House seats, where Republicans won a numerical majority. Talks are ongoing regarding creating a multipartisan governing coalition.

The partisan composition of seven state legislatures did not change in 2022.

The chart below shows each state where either or neither major party gained a percentage of the legislature.

Use the link below to view more data from this analysis, including interactive maps and chamber-specific figures.

Keep reading 

Where things stand with the federal COVID-19 public health emergency

On Jan. 31, 2020, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar signed an order declaring a federal public health emergency (PHE) regarding COVID-19. That PHE has been renewed every three months ever since. Secretary Xavier Becerra most recently renewed the PHE on Oct. 13, 2022.

The PHE expires tomorrow, Jan. 11. But, according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Becerra will likely renew the PHE for another three months since he has not sent out any notices saying he plans otherwise.

The current PHE has multiple stipulations regarding covering costs related to COVID-19 testing and care and modifying telehealth guidelines nationwide.

The PHE also includes continuous enrollment provisions, which allow Medicaid recipients to retain benefits without interruption, regardless of whether their eligibility changes. States normally re-evaluate that eligibility each year.

In December, a group of 25 Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden (D) asking him to let the PHE expire in April, referring specifically to the continuous enrollment provisions. The letters said: “The PHE is negatively affecting states, primarily by artificially growing our population covered under Medicaid … regardless of whether individuals continue to be eligible under the program.”

White House Covid response coordinator Asish Jha, said keeping treatment options available to uninsured or low-income Americans was a high priority, saying, “I do not want a low-income senior unable to afford Paxlovid or unable to afford diagnostic testing.”

Following the end of the PHE, states will re-evaluate Medicaid recipients and remove ineligible recipients from the program. Medicaid coverage will end for between 5 and 14 million people according to Kaiser Family Foundation estimates.

Since 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services has declared PHEs in response to 40 different events. Thirty-four were natural disasters, five were diseases, and one was to prepare for crowd surges during the 2009 presidential inauguration.

Only 12 of those PHEs have been renewed at least once, as shown below:

In addition to the federal COVID-19 PHE, 10 states currently have active emergency declarations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic: seven have Democratic trifectas, two have Republican trifectas, and one has a divided government. Learn more about state-specific responses using the link below.

Keep reading 

Ben Sasse resigns from U.S. Senate

Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) officially resigned from the U.S. Senate on Jan. 8 to become the University of Florida’s 13th president.

Sasse was president of Midland University in Fremont, Neb., before being elected to the Senate in 2014. Sasse was re-elected in 2020 with 63% of the vote.

Unlike the U.S. House, where every vacancy must be filled through a special election, the U.S. Constitution does not specify how to fill Senate vacancies.

Nebraska is one of 37 states where the governor makes a temporary appointment. 

That responsibility falls to newly-inaugurated Gov. Jim Pillen (R). The appointee will hold office until a special election is held in 2024 to fill the remainder of Sasse’s term, which expires in 2026.

This means Nebraskans will have two U.S. Senate elections in 2024 since U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer’s (R) seat will also be up for regular election.

With Sasse’s resignation, the U.S. Senate consists of 48 Democrats, 48 Republicans, and three independents, two of whom caucus with Democrats.

Keep reading



Let the state legislative sessions begin!

Welcome to the Friday, January 6, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. By the end of the week, 18 legislatures will be in session
  2. Biden issued 29 executive orders last year
  3. The Federal Register topped 80,000 pages last year

By the end of the week, 18 legislatures will be in session

By the end of the week, 18 state legislatures will have begun their regular sessions: sessions in California and Maine began in December with 16 more starting this week. Another 27 legislatures go into session later in January. 

All 50 states will hold regular sessions this year, with the latest—in Louisiana—beginning in April.

Forty-six legislatures hold regular sessions annually. The other four states—Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas—meet in odd-numbered years.

Indiana is currently scheduled to have the shortest regular session, starting on Jan. 9 and ending on Feb. 8. Nine states have full-time legislators. While these states typically schedule a regular session, legislators could meet at any point during the year.

The average session length scheduled in 2023 is around 150 days. But stay tuned in future editions of the Brew: the dates when legislatures convene and adjourn are often adjusted before and during sessions!

Keep reading

Biden issued 29 executive orders last year

President Joe Biden (D) issued 29 executive orders in 2022, the fewest any president has issued in the second year of a term since 1994 when Bill Clinton (D) issued one during his second year.

Biden has issued 106 executive orders since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021, an average of 53 per year, the second-highest since Ronald Reagan’s (R) presidency behind Donald Trump (R) who averaged 55 per year.

One hundred years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for a president to issue more than 200 executive orders every year on average.

Since the country’s founding, Franklin Roosevelt (D) issued the most executive orders per year with an average of 307. 

William Henry Harrison (Whig) issued no executive orders during his one month in office. 

Three presidents issued only one executive order during their presidencies: James Madison (Democratic-Republican), James Monroe (Democratic-Republican), and John Adams (Federalist).

Keep reading 

The Federal Register topped 80,000 pages in 2022

During the final week of 2022, the Federal Register added 1,544 pages ending with 80,756 pages added last year. This makes 2022 the seventh-most active year since 1936.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity, accounting for regulatory and deregulatory actions.

The most recent addition to the Federal Register includes 320 notices, three presidential documents, 25 proposed rules, and 60 final rules.

Certain rules are classified as significant, meaning they have the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state/local governments.

The Biden administration issued 241 significant proposed rules, 252 significant final rules, and five significant notices by the end of last year.

Some of those significant additions include:

  • Standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program for 2023-2025 from the Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Regulations regarding exceptions for certain interests held by foreign pension funds from the Internal Revenue Service; and,
  • A three-month delay in the implementation of planned patent fee adjustments from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of our Administrative State Project. This neutral encyclopedia resource analyzes the administrative state, its philosophical origins, legal precedents, and scholarly examinations. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Keep reading



And your 2022 Official Holiday Cookie Election winner is…

Welcome to the Friday, December 23, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. And your 2022 Cookie Election winner is…
  2. Sixteen states have already sworn in new legislators
  3. Alaska House freshmen in talks to form multipartisan governing coalition
  4. On the Twelfth Day of Ballotpedia, we revisit the midterms and look ahead

This will be our final Brew of the year. Have a restful holiday, and we will see you back here on Jan. 3!

And your 2022 Cookie Election winner is…

With 32% of the vote, and in a deliciously close race to the finish line, Gingerbread Cookie was elected the 2022 Official Holiday Cookie and immediately sworn into office!

Gingerbread Cookie, a newcomer to the office, narrowly beat out Sugar Cookie, who—first elected in 2020—was ousted in a 2021 recall. Sugar Cookie finished with 30% of the vote, followed by Snickerdoodle with 26%, and several write-ins with 12%.

These results mesh with an Axios report released last week, which found Gingerbread Cookie was overrepresented in Google searches in eight states, more than any other type of cookie. Peanut Butter Blossom, one of this year’s candidates who lost in the primary, was second, with the top spot in six states.  Sugar Cookie was fourth in that report, being the most overrepresented cookie in five states’ searches.

Click the link below to learn more about this year’s candidates, many of whom you might meet over the holiday break!

Keep reading 

Sixteen states have already sworn in new legislators

The 2022 elections are in our rearview mirror, but not every winner has been sworn into office yet. Congress holds its swearing-in on Jan 3. At the state level, 16 states have already finished swearing-in state legislators elected on Nov. 8.

Nine of those states swore in legislators in November, including Florida, Hawaii, and Tennessee, where legislators take office on Election Day itself.

Seven states swore in legislators within the first week of December.

The remaining 30 states that held elections in November won’t swear in legislators until January. Seven of those hold their swearing-ins on the first day of the year.

The states with the latest swearing-in dates are Illinois and Maryland, which hold its on Jan. 11, and Alaska (more on that in the story below!), which hold its on Jan. 17.

Keep reading 

Alaska House freshmen in talks to form multipartisan governing coalition

All 19 newly-elected members of the Alaska House of Representatives have been mentioned in talks regarding the potential of organizing a multipartisan governing coalition in the chamber, the Alaska Landmine’s Jeff Landfield reports.

The 19 freshmen—nine Republicans, eight Democrats, and two independents—would need to add two other returning members to their ranks to reach the 21-member majority needed to govern the 40-member chamber.

These discussions highlight what has become a common occurrence in the Alaska House in recent years.

Republicans won majorities in the chamber every cycle from 1994 to 2014. The party won a numerical majority in 2016, but two members joined the 17 Democrats and two independents to create a multipartisan coalition that year.

A similar scenario has played out every cycle since.

As of Dec. 21, control of the Alaska House remained unclear. Republicans again won a numerical majority—21 members—with Democrats winning 13 and independents with six.

In addition to the ongoing coalition conversations, there are legal challenges over the results of three races. Republicans won two of those challenged races, and a Democrat won one.

In 2016, members announced the creation of a governing coalition almost immediately after the election in November. But in 2018 and 2020, control remained unclear until February of the following years.

Regardless of the eventual outcome in the House, Alaska will have a divided government in the new year. In the Senate, all nine Democrats joined eight of the 11 Republicans to form a power-sharing coalition. Alaska’s governor, Mike Dunleavy, is a Republican.

Nationwide, partisan control changed in five chambers, including the Alaska Senate. Democrats gained majorities in three: the Michigan House and Senate and the Minnesota Senate. 

Democrats also won a majority in Pennsylvania, but due to vacancies, Republicans will hold more seats at the start of the session. Three special elections, all in districts that voted for Joe Biden (D) in 2020 with margins greater than 15 percentage points, are set for Feb. 7.

Both major parties’ control of all state legislative seats changed by less than half a percentage point in either direction after the Nov. 8 election. Pre- and post-election partisan totals for all state legislative seats nationwide are shown below:

Keep reading 

On the Twelfth Day of Ballotpedia, we revisit the midterms and look ahead

Last November, more than 100 million people cast a ballot in the midterm election … and millions of those voters turned to Ballotpedia for help.

In the six weeks leading up to the election, we received 85 million page views—an increase of 30 million compared to the 2018 midterms. 

However, as a 501(c)3, our work is not free to produce and we invite you to join us in providing all voters the information they need in 2023 and beyond.  We have an ambitious goal – to raise $100,000 this month!  Please join thousands of other Ballotpedia readers in helping us achieve this goal!

On social media, the number of interactions we had last November was twice that of 2018 and 3.5 times more than in 2020. 

While we are proud that so many people are interacting with our work, one comment stood out from a mom who, when sitting down with her 18-year-old daughter to vote for the first time, said, “One of the first things I taught her was the handy Ballotpedia tool for learning more about each candidate.”

With more than 500,000 elected officials nationwide, navigating your ballot isn’t always easy. We are very grateful for the opportunity to support voters and be a resource that helps them feel more confident in their choices. 

And with your support, we are determined to make this information even easier to access for as many voters as possible!

Keep reading



Presenting Ballotpedia’s year-end ballot measure report

Welcome to the Tuesday, December 20, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Presenting Ballotpedia’s year-end ballot measure report
  2. Eleven candidates running for mayor of Chicago in 2023
  3. Campaign behind California oil and gas veto referendum submits nearly 1 million signatures

Presenting Ballotpedia’s year-end ballot measure report

Doug here. I always look forward to the end of the year, not just for the holidays, but also to see all of the insights my peers have had over the past year. Today, I wanted to share one of those reports our ballot measures team just released.

Their year-end report covers the 140 statewide ballot measures voters decided across 38 states this year. It covers topics ranging from approval rates to petition costs to readability, and much more.

Here are some highlights: 

Voters approved 96 of the 140 ballot questions this year (69%). Forty-four, or 31%, were defeated.

There were four overarching types of ballot measures this year, based on where those measures originated and how they operate:

Lower number of citizen-initiated measures: Voters decided fewer citizen-initiated measures this year—30—than at any point since 2000. 

Since 2000, there have been an average of 61 citizen-initiated measures on the ballot in even-numbered years. 2022 is the second cycle in a row where that number has been below average.

Higher initiative signature costs: citizen-initiated measure campaigns spent a combined $118.3 million on signature gathering, averaging out to around $4.1 million per campaign. 

By comparison, this is almost double the average in 2020, with $2.1 million spent per campaign, and roughly four times the average costs of around $1 million per campaign in 2018 and 2016.

The majority of petition drive spending was in California, where six measures appeared on the ballot. These campaigns needed to collect between 623,000 and 1 million valid signatures and spent a collective $71.6 million on petition drives, accounting for 61% of the nationwide total.

California’s Proposition 27, which would have legalized online and mobile sports betting, topped the list this year, spending $18.8 million on its petition drive, accounting for 16% of the nationwide total. Voters rejected the measure 82% to 18%.

Graduate-school reading level for ballot measures:

This year, the average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for ballot titles of all 140 statewide measures was 19, corresponding to a third-year graduate school reading level. 

The Flesch-Kincaid metric analyzes the number of words, sentences, and syllables to arrive at a grade level. It does not measure the complexity of ideas.

Iowa had the lowest average ballot title grade at seven, corresponding to a seventh-grade reading level. Kentucky had the highest at 44, corresponding to 44 years of formal U.S. education.

On average, citizen-initiated measures received an average title grade of 17 years of education and referred measures had an average grade of 20 years.

Use the link below to view the full report:

Keep reading 

Eleven candidates running for mayor of Chicago in 2023

Let’s take an early peak at one of the major elections of 2023 – Chicago’s mayoral election. 

Elven candidates are running in the Feb. 28 general election, including incumbent Lori Lightfoot (D), U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D), and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D), who have received the most media attention so far.

First elected in 2019, Lightfoot has campaigned on her record as mayor, saying she “led the city through the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, with tough, fair leadership — all while keeping or overdelivering on campaign promises.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) and U.S. Reps. Danny Davis (D), Robin Kelly (D), and Bobby Rush (D) endorsed Lightfoot.

Garcia was first elected to the U.S. House in 2018, after serving as a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the Illinois Senate, and the Chicago City Council. Garcia said, “I’m the only candidate in the race with experience of serving the city at every level of government.”

Five state legislators, two city aldermen, and three railroad unions endorsed Garcia.

Johnson was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 2018 after working as a public school teacher and union organizer. Johnson says he is “the only candidate who has been a leader in our communities in the fights for fully funded public schools, affordable housing, green jobs and access to mental health care.”

U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez (D), two city aldermen, the Chicago Teachers Union, and the Service Employees International Union endorsed Johnson.

Chicago’s mayoral election is officially nonpartisan, meaning all 11 candidates will appear on the ballot without party labels. But candidates typically affiliate with one of the two major parties. 

If no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote on Feb. 23, the top-two vote-getters will advance to a runoff on April 4.

In the 2019 general election, Lightfoot finished first in a 14-candidate field with 17.5% of the vote. Lightfoot defeated Toni Preckwinkle (D) 74% to 26% in the runoff.

With 11 candidates on the ballot in 2023, a runoff election is, once again, likely. 

Other candidates include state Rep. Kambium Buckner (D), Frederick Collins (R), Ja’Mal Green (D), city Alderwoman Sophia King (D), Johnny Logalbo (I), Roderick Sawyer (D), former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas (D), and Willie Wilson (I).

Keep reading 

Campaign behind a California oil and gas veto referendum submits nearly 1 million signatures

On Dec. 13, the California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), leader of the Stop the Energy Shutdown campaign, announced that the campaign to place a veto referendum repealing oil and gas regulations on the 2024 ballot had collected more than 978,000 signatures, 623,212 of which must be valid to qualify for the ballot.

The referendum would repeal Senate Bill 1137 (SB 1137), which prohibits new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. It also requires companies to monitor leaks and emissions and install detection alarms.

Announcing its signature submission, CIPA said, “if implemented, SB 1137 would increase CA’s already high gas prices by decreasing our energy supply and replacing it with expensive imported foreign oil that tankers must transport from countries that do not uphold the same environmental or labor standards.”

The Sierra Club of California supports SB 1137 and opposes the veto referendum. Director Brandon Dawson said, “California frontline communities have been fighting for protections from toxic oil and gas pollution for decades, and the setbacks mandated by SB 1137 will go a long way towards preserving those communities’ air quality and ecosystems.”

CIPA—along with Chevron and Aera Energy—jointly sponsored two local veto referendums this year in Ventura County on county ordinances regulating oil and gas exploration and production. The referendums asked whether voters wanted to adopt the county’s regulations. Voters defeated both measures with about 52% of the vote, meaning the ordinances were not adopted.

Veto referendums differ from initiated statutes or legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. The latter two measures appear before the voters who decide whether to make them law. With veto referendums, the legislature passes a law, which voters then decide whether to let go into effect.

The California Senate voted 35-0 in favor of SB 1137. The state Assembly voted 46-24 in favor. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the bill on Sept. 16.

If the veto referendum qualifies for the ballot, SB 1137 would be put on hold, meaning it would not go into effect unless voters approve it in 2024.

Californians have voted on 50 veto referendums since 1912, upholding laws 21 times (42%) and repealing laws 29 times (58%). This year, in the most recent statewide veto referendum, voters upheld a law banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, 63% to 37%.

Keep reading



Reviewing this year’s 2,500+ pieces of election-related legislation

Welcome to the Monday, December 19, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. More than 2,500 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures this year
  2. The Federal Register has added 77,000 pages since the beginning of year
  3. Candidates advance to the 2022 Holiday Cookie general election
  4. For the Eighth Day of the 15 Days of Ballotpedia, we’re going local!

More than 2,500 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures this year

Ballotpedia tracked 2,534 election-related bills in 45 states this year. This comes as part of our Election Administration Legislation Tracker, which keeps tabs on the latest election-related legislation nationwide. 

We’re already following more than 100 bills pre-filed for 2023. But first, let’s take a quick look back at 2022. 

Most of these bills—1,714, or 68%—have had no activity, meaning they were introduced, but have not yet been placed before any legislative committees.

We tracked 266 bills that were enacted—11% of the total. Another 10% either failed or were vetoed. The remaining bills are all pending, having advanced out of at least one committee, but without final action so far.

States with Democratic trifectas—meaning full legislative and gubernatorial control—accounted for 93 of the 266 enacted bills (35%), and 121 (45%) came in states with Republican trifectas. States with divided governments enacted 52 bills (20%).

Among the states that considered any election-related legislation this year, New York had the most bills at 416, while Connecticut had the fewest at two.

Five states considered no election-related bills this year, though three of those—Montana, North Dakota, and Texas—did not have regular legislative sessions this year.

Democrats and Republicans sponsored nearly equal numbers of election-related bills at 1,107 and 1,106, respectively. A combination of Democrats and Republicans sponsored another 219, and partisan sponsorship was unknown or unavailable for 102.

We assign at least one subject-category tag to each election-related bill in our database. These tags help summarize the contents of each bill. Complex or omnibus bills may require multiple tags. You can view a full list of all categories and subcategories, including explanations, here.

When organized by subject, the largest number of bills concerned voter registration and maintaining voter registration lists, followed by absentee/mail-in voting, contest-specific procedures, ballot access, and audits and oversight.

Both major parties had specific subject areas where they were more active than the opposing party.

Want to stay in the know with future election-related legislative updates? Subscribe to our weekly digest, and get our latest stats and analyses delivered straight to your inbox each Friday!

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The Federal Register has added 77,000 pages since the beginning of year

Between Dec. 12 and 16, the Federal Register added 1,567 pages for a year-to-date total of 77,457 pages, making 2022 the third-most active year since 2016.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity, accounting for regulatory and deregulatory actions.

The Biden Administration has added an average of 1,549 pages to the Federal Register each week this year. At that rate, the total number of pages is projected to reach 80,555.

The most recent addition to the Federal Register includes 392 notices, three presidential documents, 44 proposed rules, and 74 final rules.

Certain rules are classified as significant, meaning they have the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state/local governments.

The Biden administration has issued 228 significant proposed rules, 240 significant final rules, and five significant notices as of Dec. 16.

Some of those significant additions include:

  • Modifications to regulations regarding medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder from the Health and Human Services Department;
  • A notification of public hearing regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program for 2023-2025 from the Environmental Protection Agency; and,
  • A correction to a rule regarding General Schedule Locality Pay Areas from the Personnel Management Office.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of our Administrative State Project. This neutral encyclopedic resource analyzes the administrative state, its philosophical origins, legal precedents, and scholarly examinations. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Keep reading 

Candidates advance to the 2022 Holiday Cookie general election

The polls closed last week for this year’s Holiday Cookie primary. And in a sugar-shocking turn of events, it appears that incumbent Chocolate chip cookie has lost!

Eight cookies participated in the primary plus several write-in candidacies, including a particularly sweet showing for biscochitos, the state cookie of New Mexico.

But only the top-three vote-getters advance to the general election. Those primary results baked out as follows:

And, with that, Gingerbread cookie, Sugar cookie, and Snickerdoodle are your general election nom-nominees!

If you missed out on the primary, don’t worry: general election polls are open today at 8:00 a.m. E.T. until Thursday, Dec. 22, at 5:00 p.m. E.T.

Please check out the candidate profiles in preparation for this scrumptious general election.

Cast your vote today! 

For the Eighth Day of the 15 Days of Ballotpedia, we’re going local!

Each day, we have showcased the different ways Ballotpedia helps voters get the information they need about politics and policy. From congressional races to ballot measures to school board elections, the more people understand the issues and candidates on their ballots, the more informed their choices will be.

However, as a nonprofit, our work is not free to produce and we invite you to join us in providing all voters the information they need in 2023 and beyond. We have an ambitious goal—to raise $100,000 this month! Please join thousands of other Ballotpedia readers in helping us achieve this goal!

Today, we’re highlighting our local coverage.

Ballotpedia works hard to offer every voter ballot information from presidential candidates down through state legislative races. But there are 14,000 school districts, 19,000 cities and towns, and 3,200 counties nationwide. 

Altogether, these local offices add up to about 585,000 elected positions, and our goal is to cover them all within the next five years!

That’s why Ballotpedia focuses so much on local elections. State, county, and municipal elections, school districts, ballot initiatives, and primaries – these are the laboratories of democracy, the places where civic engagement is most potent.

Too often, these local races are overlooked, but with your support, we are determined to give voters information at every level of government possible.

Click here to make your tax-deductible contribution